Categories
Change Counseling Love and Romance Psychology Social Media

On Love v. Admiration

In the movie, My Life As a House, George Monroe is an architect who is let go from his job and discovers he has terminal cancer, of which he withholds his diagnosis from others. After deciding he wants to tear down an old house on a piece of property he has been dreaming about for a rebuild, he tells his ex-wife that he wants to take his son Sam for the summer and build the house with him.

In a powerful scene between father and son, Sam’s repulsed expression of disbelief flies out at his father, “You trying to get me to like you?” George’s response is equally telling, “I was trying to get you to love me.”

The things we do for love. Or, is it love that we’re truly pursuing?

With the rare exception of individuals with personality disorders that manifest in social aloofness, we crave love and connection. Children can create imaginary friends to fill in loneliness, boredom, or fearful emotions. And in the age of the Internet, many of us flock to Social Media to not only see what others are doing, but to curate a world where others might connect with us.

All of this sounds pretty innocuous, maybe even adaptive. Until it isn’t.

I’ve been intrigued by conversation around a fast-growing group of people who are being called out as repeat marathon cheaters. These are people, usually everyday non-elite runners, who engaged in ways to cheat the system in order to gain awards, access to other races, and followers because of their astonishing fast-paced finishes. The numbers of cheaters caught at marathons, half marathons, and triathlons are enough that there are forums and a website dedicated to investigating marathon cheaters and turning them in to the race directors and organizations to determine what, if any, consequences should be rendered. The cheating is so common place enough that Wired magazine recently published a story about the founder of Marathon Investigations and the most perplexing responses and consequences of cheating exposures. 

Ever wonder why they would do it?

I suspect the numbers of marathon cheaters is actually not growing as much as you’d think. Rather, the technology used to catch marathon cheaters has improved in such a way as to punish the cheater in a public way by way of disclosure and the removal of awards, a ban from races, and potentially retroactive removal of finish times if there is a proven history of cheating across multiple races.

In other words, marathon cheaters risk being shamed and despised for their behaviour, if they are caught. And if they aren’t caught, they receive the love and admiration of fans.

Actually, I think these people stumble on another truth. They don’t receive love from their fans. They receive admiration based on achievement. Another way of putting it is that they cull conditional love based on a transaction: I perform, and you compliment me. 

Is It Worth It?

As you might have guessed, this post isn’t about running and marathon cheaters as much as it is about answering a question: is it worth it? And what “it” did you receive?

What “it” are we talking about? 

The subject is Love. Most of us learn about the importance of love when we are children. We see it in the sacrifices our parents and caregivers made in order to provide for our needs, listen to us, take us ball games and movies, and make sure we have opportunities to learn and grow. Love is can be hidden within a voice wishing us goodnight, folded into a homemade cake for a birthday party, and embedded in a hug and a kiss. 

Admiration is a similar feeling as Love, yet with a subtle difference. Admiration involves respect and approval, usually because of something we did to earn that feeling from another. An example of being admired is when a stranger put his/her personal safety in jeopardy in order to save the life of another.  We admire that person for bravery; we don’t love that person (the person is a stranger), as much as we hold in high esteem that person’s choice of action at the risk of personal injury. 

So back to the question, is it worth it. It is my belief that one of the reasons why marathon cheaters continue a pattern of cheating is because they trade Love for Admiration.  Finding and experiencing unconditional, non-transactional Love is rare. What they want is to be loved, but what they seek through cheating is the next best thing: Respect and Admiration for being a high performer. 

If Respect and Admiration means that much to a person, I believe they can  – sometimes do — pursue Admiration at all costs; therefore, it is worth it to them. The ‘likes’ on their Social Media posts, the adoring comments filled with heart emojis and ‘way to go’s, gives the person a lot of validation. It becomes its own kind of pellet food bar, of which a hungry mouse will keep pushing despite the fear of being shocked as long as the memory of getting a pellet of food remains. Rewards light up our brains, even if the reward as an emotional one.

And it works on the negative side of the equation too. Some people will do act outrageously to get attention, even orchestrating daring examples of socially unjust or violent actions. Earning a nickname that inspires fear has become its own kind of admiration in the half light of glowing screens across the globe. 

Can’t Buy Me Love

If Love can’t be bought, can its next best feeling, Admiration, be had by lesser means? In the Age of the Internet and the viral nature of Social Media, the answer could very well be Yes

Let me propose an example. You are a woman, a mom, a wife, and you’ve worked all your life to help your family. You do good things in community, volunteer for charities, do your share of duties in your local PTSA, and help the kids with school. At the end of a long day, you take a glance at your Social Media feeds. What do you see?  The accounts with thousands and millions of followers for women are often in the world of beauty, celebrities in film and music, wellness, politics, and sports figures. Oh, and cat ownership.

While you have changed diapers,  helped the kids get launched to college, supported a spouse through think and thin, perhaps you have not been celebrated and noticed. One of the ways we feel Loved is when we have been seen. And one of the ways many of us have sought to be seen by more people is through Social Media. 

One of the ways we feel Loved is when we have been Seen.

The strange thing is this: even accomplished people, celebrities, and sports figures can fall prey to the this online search for recognition. In those cases, there may be money involved in the form of exclusive sponsorships, and a poor performance could translate into loss of income. There would be incredible pressure to cheat, lie, or embellish a story. I’m not excusing cheating, just providing a possible explanation of why someone who was already accomplished might feel pressured to cheat or lie in his or her industry.

What about the Age Group athlete (a non-elite, non-professional athlete), in running or triathlon? Why would they cheat if there was no other financial reward for an Age Group win?

I suspect that the search for Admiration and Respect are in play. It can feel so good to be called a, “Badass” because you are fast and strong. People are curious about seemingly unreachable feats that require commitment, sacrifice, dedication, and focus. We elevate athletic pursuit to be characteristics of the gods.

Still, you can be the head of a tribe of people – a leader! — if you promote a certain kind of lifestyle that others find challenging — such as being a Vegan* or being Sober**, but in the world of Social Media, being Vegan and being Sober aren’t necessarily enough to win the attention of others. If you’re aware that you hunger to be Admired, you’d better match that Vegan lifestyle with something else, something Hard, something Ideal, something Extraordinary.

Of course, I am pointing out the flaws in this formula for living. Why can’t each person be celebrated for these decisions, just as they are? Why don’t we see them?

On Reading

My point is, that rabbit hole has no end. If you search for a sense of worth by Doing instead of Being, you will be tired. You might get some followers, and you will be exhausted.

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. I personally don’t subscribe to the romantic overtures of expensive dinners and romance packages. You’re more likely to find me continuing to do the little things behind closed doors that lets my loved ones know how much I care. I still make the bed every morning, as much for myself as for my husband, so that the pillows are plumped and inviting, and a fresh pot of brown rice is ready for dinner at the end of the day. It’s mundane, yet it has it’s own Truth.

The love I feel is about having read people. It is not, “love at all costs” based on the accumulation of achievements. It is love based on our ability to see a person and choose to bestow warmth and affection for who they are.

Love is given because we can choose to love someone based on who they “be” in your life, not what they do. If you knew you were loved that way, you would never feel the need to cheat your way to being admired or respected. You would not worry so much what strangers thought about what clothes you wear when you’re on vacation, or what foods you do or don’t eat.

Yet, as I mentioned before, this kind of non-transactional Love is rare. It takes time to cultivated, because not everyone learns it early in life, and there are social forces around us that whisper other truths about what our essential worth is based on: appearance, agility, youth, genius, gender, economics, work performance, possessions.

The false form of love that people seek or fear on the Internet is costly. Yet, if you choose to See, it’s possible to learn how to cultivate Love versus Admiration based on accomplishment.


Note * and **: In case you were wondering, I have nothing personal against either lifestyle choices of Veganism nor Sobriety, and I have seen how some have healed aspects of their physical and mental health with both. I have simply chosen these two examples because of the abundance of writers on the subjects.

Categories
Change Client-centered Therapy coaching Counseling

September 2018 Address from SDC

Fall 2018 Address from SDC | Fall | What’s New

Fall is almost here! Here is my Fall 2018 address to keep you in touch with everything happening at SDC. Photo by Pixabay.

Outside my window, the leaves area already showing the colors of the impending Fall season. Brilliant yellows, screaming vermillion and reds, and toasted browns dapple my neighborhood.

By now, the kids are back to school, work is humming along, and summer vacation memories are washed and stored away. Now what?

Traditionally, I like to use the weeks just before the advent of Fall to do a check in with self, spirit, relationship, and end-of-year goals.

Questions to ask:

  • How are you doing
  • Where are you with Contentment, Satisfaction, and Role
  • How are you contributing to your happiness and the happiness of others around you
  • What progress have you made towards end-of-year goals, and what adjustments do you want to make now to steer closer to them

As I sat on a boulder admiring the view of Lake Moraine in Banff, Canada, I can tell you that I had no such questions in my mind. I was just taking in the view and soaking up every moment outdoors. Yet, in quiet moments in the evening after darkness had fallen, I asked these questions and took a few notes, knowing that I would be thinking about Fall 2018 and what I am bringing back to Seattle Direct Counseling.

Based on conversations from 2017 to present, here is what you can expect from SDC:

  • Professional online counseling services to help meet the needs of busy people and remote-access clients
  • One day per week access to F2F counseling sessions to help local and traveling clients receive personalized care and urgent mental health care when needed
  •  Certified triathlon coaching  (study to begin Sept 2018)
  • Focused writing on food and wellness for those with autoimmune disease and food allergies and intolerances

Fall marks an influx of new clients seeking to address both stubborn, hurtful patterns of thinking and behaving, and recent transitions that have created challenges and barriers across every area of life.

If you are looking to start therapy, or need a coach for detailed how-to’s, Fall is a great time to set counseling or coaching in motion. Please see my hours and Connect Directly page to get the ball rolling for you.

Categories
Change Client-centered Therapy coaching Counseling Psychology

Happy New Year 2018

New Year 2018 | motivation| goals

Woman running along remote road through a mountain canyon in the distance.
Want to see personal change in your life? Tired of the same old, same old, complaining about things you never did? The counseling process can help with personal insight about how you tick, where you get in your own way, and how you can unlock the door to pursuing your own passions and dreams. Photo from Pixabay, no attribution required.

Once again, it’s a new year.

Once again, you might find yourself among those who wish to use the start of a new year to institute a change. Maybe you want to start a new habit, learn to eat better, drink less or abstain from alcohol, drop some weight, gain some muscle, strengthen a relationship, or end a toxic one.

You look back at the previous year, and wonder, “Why couldn’t I have accomplished this last year?”

I hear you. I understand the hunger for change. I also understand that it is easier to talk about change than it is to actually change.

If you came by this counseling website in hopes of starting counseling because you would like to work on change, I’d like to be of help. This is a simple post.

I believe that with minimal motivation or inspiration (the why behind the change you want to see in your personal life), the element you need is to take an action regarding the what and the how.  And if you are to have half a chance at successfully reaching a reasonable goal of change, you need to get going on a plan.

Let me repeat this simple thought. Once you understand the why, you really need to take ACTION. If you don’t, you will be asking the same question about why you did not see change in 2018 when 2019 rolls around. And that is an icky feeling, like finding an old piece of gum stuck to the bottom of your favorite pair of boots, when you could have removed it a long time ago.

One of the things I love about counseling is that a certain amount of coaching is baked into the process. While it always begins with understanding your past and how it plays out in the present, it doesn’t have to stop there.  You can design a plan of action around your counseling insights, and work towards change in measurable steps.

If you have a hunger for personal change, I’d love to discuss with you how counseling can help.  My counseling practice has transitioned to all online telemental health  and private coaching, accessible through a HIPPA compatible platform.

Happy New Year,

imei